The Exit Plan for Foreigners

When I was handling the smaller projects in Singapore, I often sat down with the workers during tea break and chatted with them. Most of them were from Bangladesh and the rest were from India and the PRC. Our conversations were usually two-sided. They would be asking questions like what my grandmother would during Chinese New Year. My love life, how many kids do I intend to have in future, how was my spouse and I handle our money and so on. They shared the same information about themselves at ease in return.

One of the common question I would ask each individual was why were they there, working in Singapore under pretty harsh weather conditions. Most of them were not construction workers back in their homelands. They were farmers, clerks, butchers, odd job labourers, kitchen hands and so on. As we know, the sole reason for their existence in Singapore was to make money. They were not there to admire the Merlion or the Pinay maids during the weekends. Hmm... as a matter of fact, a minority of them actually did bring their Pinays to the Merlion before having fun elsewhere. Those chaps were usually talked about in hushed tones and shaking heads among their peers, as they were deemed to stray off The Purpose. For the rest of them, none of them wanted anything to do with Singapore after 8-10 years of working in Singapore. They would return home in glory and live a semi-retired life in their mid 30s or early 40s.

One of the question I never fail to them was that if Singapore offered them permanent residency, would they take it up? Surprisingly, all of them told me how well they thought of Singapore but none of them would consider being a PR due to two main reasons. One, the cost of living was incredulous and their homeland was "better". When you keep hearing one after another, regardless of nationality, claiming that the place where they came from was better than Singapore, you wonder why. I think there is no need for me to elaborate why Singaporeans are so proud of Singapore. We have one of the modern, safest and cleanest city in the world. It baffled the mind why people from the so call "Third World" countries would claim their homelands were better. I wanted to know more.

It turned out that even many of the Singapore PRs I knew were reluctant to give up their citizenship for the red passport. It is true that many SPRs have converted over the years but the scale is massively tilted to those who refused to. The Indians and Filipinos SPRs have no qualms about taking up the red passport. The Indians have access to the overseas citizens card (OOC) and the Filipinos who lost their citizenship by foreign naturalization may re-acquire or retain their Philippine citizenship later. So the folks who held their SPRs were mainly the Malaysians. Why were they so reluctant to give up their blues? Surely, the Malaysians can't lay claim to Malaysia being the better country? When I asked, "Malaysia really boleh ah?" They would reply, "Boleeeeeh!" with conviction.

It turned out that everything had to do with the exit plan.

My foreign workers will return to their homeland and "live like a king." That claim is exaggerated but most of them can live comfortably or be semi-retired by the time they turn 40. My Indian and Filipinos SPRs turned citizen will return to their respective countries when the time is ripe since they have the access to reinstate their original citizenship and renounce their SG citizenship. By cutting ties, they will be allow to do a full withdrawal of their HDB sale proceeds and CPF balance. The Malaysians will give up their PRs and do the same thing. They too, return home with their bags of gold, to retire or semi retire in their 50s.

That was when I realised why Malaysia was boleh.

It turns out that it has little to with whether the country is better or worse by normal comparison variables. It isn't about where you live and why the place deem ideal. It is how you live, what kind of lifestyle you can afford and when you can attain it. Singaporeans who remain ignorant and bigotic can continue to see Malaysia as a dangerous shit hole and remain in our own to pick cardboard for exercise. The rest of us will plant the next flag [link] and carry on.

This post is created after Judy asked me if her husband should convert to become Singapore citizen, giving up his Malaysia citizenship. I gave her the, "Are you fucking serious?" look.

1 comment:

  1. Ha, Malaysian Chinese.

    Buggers call me a quitter when I left, but none of them took up Sinkie citizenship.

    Fucking chinese. Two headed snakes.